In an effort to reduce costs, the decision was made to keep the library in its present location and relocate Art/STEM to the existing cafeteria space. The initial desire to have Art/STEM in the existing library space was to provide proximity to the science wing for shared curriculum. This design required the renovation of two spaces: the cafeteria and the library. Relocating the Art/STEM programs to the cafeteria and including minor upgrades to the library provides an estimated savings of $580,000. All other upgrades as described below remain the same as what was previously recommended.
School buildings in the United States are generally designed with a 40 year useful life cycle. Major infrastructure systems are expected to be repaired or replaced after that time. The older portions of FHS, primarily the 1961 sections, need significant renovation despite regular infrastructure maintenance and upgrades. RSU5, and prior to that the town of Freeport, has been recognized in the Master Plan to have been a good steward to the school building over its lifetime.
The key investments to the infrastructure of the building over the history of the high school include:
• New boilers in 1974 and 2008.
• New electrical service 2003.
• Fire alarm system 2000-2012
• Replace gym floor 2011
The following are groupings of identified building renovation needs as outlined in the 2012 Master Plan:
Upgrade window systems to replace the 25 year old aluminum windows that are failing and that are not providing the desired energy efficiency.• Replace electrical sub-panels• Upgrade IT fiber optic backbone to address current and future computer needs and allow the use of Smartboards in classrooms. • Replace extremely old and outdated plumbing and fixtures in the restrooms.• Provide ADA compliant sinks, toilets, grab rails, and properly positioned mirrors and paper dispensers.• Replace light fixtures in all 1961 classrooms.• Upgrade/replace wall, floor and ceiling finishes in all 1961 classrooms.• Upgrade power and technology features in all classrooms.
All new public schools in Maine that have obtained Department of Education funding are required to have several key security features. Currently the 1961 high school does not meet these modern day security requirements. The changes would:Configure administrative offices and the main school entrance to allow administrative staff direct viewing of visitor drop off, visitor parking , and the walk leading to the front door.Provide a vestibule, or sally port, that would remain locked throughout the school day. Visitors to the school would enter the vestibule and provide ID to the desk attendant before being electronically “buzzed” through a second set of doors.
FHS is one of only a few highs schools remaining in the state of Maine that has only a single set of double doors at its main entrance. There is currently no architectural element that serves to identify the main entrance to the school and visitors often go to the FPAC entrance instead of the main entrance. The renovation plan would:
• Create a visually significant facade that clearly identifies the main entrance to all visitors.
• Provide a rain canopy for waiting students.
• Increase exterior lighting around the entrance and walkways.
ADA laws passed in 1990 and have requirements that apply to many aspects of public buildings. These requirements were not a consideration at the time the school was constructed in 1961 and many areas in the current high school building are not in compliance. The concept design plan would:• Add signage in corridors and office and classroom entrances that is of adequate height and contrast.• Increase classroom door clearance.• Install lever handles on doors.• Make classroom sinks accessible.• Upgrade restrooms with compliant toilets, sinks, wall grab rails, and properly placed mirrors and paper dispensers.• Create cafeteria serving areas that are in compliance for food service lines, tray slides, and access aisles.
ADMINISTRATIVE, STUDENT AND MEETING SPACES
The current administrative offices are undersized and located in different parts of the building. The goal is to group the administrative, guidance, nurse, and school resource officer spaces into adjacent rooms to maximize effectiveness and efficiency. There is currently only one meeting room in the entire school. In 1961, there were no IEP or 504 plan meetings between parents, students and educators. Now these meetings happen regularly and there is not adequate space to hold them privately. Having a school resource officer on site is considered an integral part of the safety and security of a 21st century school.
CLASSROOM DESIGN AND MULTI-USE SPACES
When the school was constructed in 1961, it was typical to have classrooms lined up along either side of a long straight hallway. Teachers stood at the front of the classroom and addressed all students simultaneously. There was typically no need for student work spaces outside the standard classroom. Most classrooms were designed to be about the same size throughout the building. With changes in the way students are now taught, some aspects of the 1961 design of our high school are now outdated. Students frequently are asked to collaborate on projects and work in small groups. Having private work spaces for this type of collaboration is important.With the addition of Advanced Placement and other challenging, lower enrollment courses, smaller classroom sizes become needed to maximize usage of space.Additionally, with the advent of technology and the use of laptops by all students at FHS, it is important to have technology friendly spaces that provide access to power.
The Concept Design Plan addresses these changes by providing:
• Two student study areas for group work or to be used by individual students.
• Booth seating in food court that can double as small group work areas.
• Variously sized classrooms to accommodate large and small classes with maximum efficiency.
• Wiring of classrooms, study spaces and food court areas to allow for use of laptops and other technology.